Shift and Reshape (SJN)

I wrote about why solutions-focused coverage of economic mobility issues is important and how my own experiences covering poverty led me to the Solutions Journalism Network.

“COVID-19 has exposed deep inequalities that already existed in our society. Many of the people who are suffering the most from the pandemic were already vulnerable, often living below the federal poverty line or struggling to make ends meet.

You know the stories. Maybe they’re in your own portfolio. (They’re in mine, too.)

  • A family struggling to find permanent housing after living in a shelter.
  • The challenges that first-generation kids with immigrant parents face while navigating the school system on their own.
  • A hard worker who was walking to work in the early morning hours, but then someone finds out and buys them a car. Everyone cries in the parking lot after the big reveal. It’s heartwarming, but a temporary fix for a much larger problem.

I did those stories in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the nation. At first they felt important, like something would change if people just knew what was happening around them. After a few years, I didn’t fully believe that anymore.

The annual reports confirmed what people already knew. Year after year, our state was last in the nation, or nearly last, on nearly every measure of child well-being. Near the bottom for jobs and economic growth, as well.

I started to wonder whether it was even useful to cover what the people experiencing poverty already knew. It didn’t seem to change policies. It didn’t change how people talked about poverty. I got into journalism to help people get the information they needed to improve their lives, but I was discouraged when nothing shifted — despite the attention that I and other journalists put on these issues year after year.

I started to seriously think about leaving journalism.

Then the Solutions Journalism Network arrived in New Mexico.”

Read the full article here

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